2011 Japanese Grand Prix
Michael Schumacher and Lewis Hamilton failed to start their final qualifying laps after an incident at the chicane involving them and Mark Webber at the end of Q3..
Webber passed Hamilton on the inside at the chicane and the Red Bull driver was able to start his final lap in time.
While Hamilton avoided Webber, Schumacher was on the outside of the pair of them and drove onto the run-off to avoid them.
Schumacher called the incident “stupid” and said it had begun when Hamilton slowed down in front of him and Webber:
“It was a bit stupid in the last chicane, everybody was driving so slow and I saw my lap and I knew I had to go through somehow otherwise I wouldn’t make it and I just missed it by a second.”
He added: “I had Webber in front who slowed down because Hamilton slowed down. I don’t know what was in front of him, if he really had to slow down that much. But it was tight for all three of us so we all had to push somehow to make it through and to do another lap.
“At that moment I was set to do a lap because I didn’t know whether Kobayashi may go out or somebody goes out. So I tried my best and then Lewis pushed me a little bit wide onto the grass.”
Schumacher said: “it’s a shame but it didn’t make a problem in the end,” because he was still able to end the session in seventh place.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said Hamilton had been told not to let the following cars overtake him:
“With Lewis it was tight. We told him not to back up and let any cars by. Unfortunately he got passed at the last corner and in so doing missed the opportunity at a second lap.
“So, frustrating, of course, but the reality is we’ve got a car that’s quick here, we’re second and third, and it’s a long race.”
“He’d been told not to back up, he’d been told to push. But he got overtaken by Mark in the last corner – no accusation to Mark, he did a good job to get by. Obviously Michael missed it as well.
“It was tight for all of them. Lewis had been told ‘don’t let cars by’ and by letting the cars by he missed that chance to get through.”
Hamilton was behind Button at the time and McLaren’s pit messages show Button had been told to “make a gap to Massa”, who was ahead of him.
Hamilton was on provisional pole position at the time but slipped to third place afterwards. He said he could have improved his time had he been able to do a final lap:
“The car was feeling great and I felt like I had a couple of tenths at least left. I had time, there was a couple of corners where I lost a bit of time on my first run. So I felt like I was in a position to at least fight with these two guys.
“It was a bit dangerous at the last corner where I had Mark attack me and I had Michael go down the outside. It was very strange and that’s really why we lost the lap.”
2011 Japanese Grand Prix
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Image © McLaren